Hay Barn receives American Institute of Architects award

Cowell Ranch Hay Barn receives prestigious American Institute of Architects, California Council Design Award.

August 15, 2018


A crowd of 500 celebrants at the Hay Barn during the 50th Anniversary of the UCSC Farm & Garden banquet dinner.

The Cowell Ranch Hay Barn has received an American Institute of Architects, California Council Design Award, one of six major awards the innovative structure has garnered since its public opening in September 2015 as the headquarters of the Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems (CASFS).

Designed by architect Richard Fernau (B.A., philosophy, ’69) of the Berkeley firm Fernau + Hartman, the Hay Barn was selected as one of 20 award recipients from a field of more than 250 entries. According to the AIACC’s press release, “Projects with ‘good bones,’ ‘resolute in power,’ and with the ‘ability to both understand and inspire,’ were carefully chosen as the jurors commented, narrowing down the amount with accurate, careful and extreme specificity.” 

Says Fernau, “We are especially pleased with this latest award, as California architects can submit projects of any size from anywhere in the world. Competition is fierce, and it is easy overlook a hay barn in a stack of concert halls, airports, and stadiums in the middle east.” 

The award-winning projects range from historic interpretations to student housing; from institutional and educational to affordable housing. Details are available on the AIACC website.

The Hay Barn is a reconstruction of an 1860s Cowell Ranch structure, built to support the thriving lime making operations near the entrance of today’s UC Santa Cruz campus. 

Incorporating many of the materials and key construction techniques from the original barn, the expansive space has become a popular site for classes, conferences, weddings, and other events, as well as an important site for CASFS activities. The restoration was made possible with a $5 million grant from the Helen and Will Webster Foundation. 

According to the AIACC website featuring this year’s Design Award winners, “The reconstruction, which was required to meet current codes and aggressive sustainability goals, entailed exhaustive documentation, piece-by-piece deconstruction, painstaking reassembly of the historic structure by weaving together new and old elements, and the incorporation of contemporary program. 

To learn more about the Hay Barn, see the Cowell Ranch Hay Barn website.